WASHINGTON—As an exhausted President Obama worked his way through a long and stressful week marked by his political opponents’ resounding victory in the midterm elections, sources within the White House confirmed that the commander-in-chief summoned presidential castrato Loreto Caffarelli into the Oval Office yesterday evening to soothe his fraying nerves.
Dressed in silk flounces and gold filigree robes, the castrato, who since a childhood gelding procedure in 1982 has calmed five presidents with his angelic mezzo-soprano, was reportedly instructed to stand at the center of the rug bearing the presidential seal and await the request of the weary head of state, who was meeting with senior advisers.
“Sing me something from The Birth Of Flowers,” Obama is reported to have said, massaging his temples as the castrated 39-year-old, known for his powerful treble voice, broke into an aria from the 17th-century opera. “Ah, yes, beautiful. Beautiful.”
“It’s just magnificent,” added Obama, who is said to have leaned back in his chair behind the Resolute desk, closing his eyes and letting out a slow sigh of relief as the presidential castrato, accompanied by lyre, delivered a performance sources described as “otherworldly.”
Caffarelli garnered favor early in Obama’s presidency with the exquisite, ethereal register of his voice, according to officials. He is often seen accompanying the nation’s chief executive to state dinners, Cabinet meetings, security briefings, 11th-hour budget negotiations, and high-powered talks with top diplomats, as well as family outings to Camp David and Martha’s Vineyard. During lengthy international trips aboard Air Force One, the president is known to dismiss his aides and spend hours listening to the castrato in rapt silence.
Reports indicate Obama even relied on the neutered singer during the difficult early morning hours of the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, calling him down to the Situation Room to perform Schubert’s “Ave Maria” on three separate occasions before rewarding him with a valuable American Buffalo gold bullion coin.
According to historians, the White House castrato program dates back to 1798, when King Charles Emmanuel IV of Sardinia presented John Adams with the gift of famed 23-year-old castrato Bruto di Somma, commonly referred to by politicians and newspapers of the time as “The Angel Voice Of Our Republic.” The melodious eunuchs have reportedly served to relax and instill focus in American presidents ever since. John F. Kennedy is said to have installed risers in the Oval Office for a castrati trio in 1962, later confiding that without their poignant performances of Handel’s “Lascia Ch’io Pianga” and Scarlatti’s Sedecia oratorio, he would not have made it through the 13 days of the Cuban missile crisis without suffering a nervous breakdown.
Presidential staffers have described the tones of Caffarelli’s voice echoing through the West Wing in the evening as “haunting” and unlike either “woman or boy.”
“He truly is our White House nightingale,” said Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, who remarked that during a recent bout of presidential insomnia, the castrato was called to the bedside of Obama and the first lady, where he stood singing a selection of soothing Baroque cantatas and refilling a glass of wine on the nightstand. “I’ll never forget him being squeezed into the back of a crowded East Room to perform a Carissimi motet as the president signed the Affordable Care Act into law.”
“It was clear to me then how important this elegant virtuoso had become to all of us,” McDonough added. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
Former administration officials told reporters Caffarelli is housed in luxurious quarters below the White House’s Vermeil Room, where he engages in a rigorous training regimen: Each day, he rehearses the presidential canon of operatic classics, spending hours performing difficult trills and coloratura passages, and takes considerable time to press his cravats and meticulously maintain his collection of brocade waistcoats.
The entirely beardless singer often practices in front of a mirror, sources said, so he can learn to avoid any unnecessary facial expressions that might displease the 44th president.
“Like previous presidents, Obama has become incredibly protective of his castrato during his time in office,” said historian Bernard Sheckland, adding that the president has repeatedly rebuffed offers from Saudi prince Salman bin Abdulaziz to “name his price” for Caffarelli. “But like others before him, Obama demands fierce loyalty in return. You’ll recall that Nixon went through no fewer than seven presidential castrati. Their many performances—as well as their bitter, profanity-laced dismissals from service—are of course preserved on his White House tapes.”
At press time, a missed note by Caffarelli had reportedly caused Obama to smash a dish from the Reagan state china service against the wall and angrily drive the castrato out the Oval Office’s east doors.